Pubs begin trading from outdoor spaces

Approximately 15,000 pubs will be able to trade from their outdoor spaces today.

Approximately 15,000 pubs will be able to trade from their outdoor spaces today, as the on-trade takes its first step along the government's reopening roadmap. 

In a cruel twist of fate, much of the England woke up to snow on Monday 12 April, as 40% of the industry prepared for trading for the first time in four months. 

"Today is a huge moment for much of the industry," says Tristan O'Hana, editor of Pub & Bar. "The best of luck to all of those who are welcoming customers into their outdoor spaces today. We know pub and bar operators will deliver pub goers with exceptional, safe and memorable experiences come rain or shine... or snow."

To help with the transition, a collection of trade bodies have published a guide for the key rules that licensees need to know as they open their doors (listed below). This summarises a full FAQ document produced by UKHospitality, the BII and the BBPA.

The clarity is especially important after wildly differing – and often incorrect – interpretations of some of the new rules have been sent to businesses by some local authorities. The trade bodies have urged enforcement bodies to take a light-touch but consistent approach.

“Reopening of pubs and other hospitality businesses outdoors is a step forward for the full reopening of our sector," says a spokesperson for the trade associations. "Safety of our staff and customers remains our top priority – as is consistent interpretation of the new rules. By referring to this handy checklist, hospitality operators can ensure they are taking the right steps to reopen outdoors”.

12 rules for 12 April

  1. Review your Covid-19 risk assessment to ensure that all relevant mitigations are in place and that staff are aware of their responsibilities.
  2. You must have an NHS QR Code poster accessible to all customers as well as an alternative method for recording customer contact details. Customers details must be collected, via the app or otherwise, before they place an order.
  3. All customers (16+) must provide their details for Test and Trace. You must take reasonable steps to refuse entry to those who refuse to check in or provide false details. You do not have to check customers’ phones if they use the NHS app, but you should satisfy yourself they have done so (i.e. by asking customers if they have checked-in). This last point is yet to be confirmed in writing, but is expected soon. 
  4. Customers are only allowed indoors to: walk to the outdoor area, use the toilet, baby change and breast feeding facilities or make payment at the bar as a last resort. Customers must wear face coverings indoors and not loiter or congregate.
  5. Staff must wear face coverings in indoor areas, unless they are separated from customers by a screen or similar. Face coverings do not need to be worn outdoors by staff or customers.
  6. Outdoor seating and tables should be reconfigured to maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m+ with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) between groups of customers. Government have confirmed that social distancing applies between tables, not within groups sitting at tables.
  7. Customers must be seated at a table to order, be served and consume their food and/or drink in venues serving alcohol. Ideally payment should also be taken at table, however, as a last resort (and only if not possible outdoors) payment can be taken indoors. 
  8. It is no longer the case that a substantial meal has to be ordered with alcohol.
  9. Groups must be a maximum of six people, but can number more than six, if comprised from only two households.
  10. Outdoor structures must follow the same rules as smoking shelters – 50% or more of the sides must be open – in order to be classed as “outdoors”.
  11. You can offer background music and television outside, if it is kept at a reasonable volume and shouting/singing/chanting is prevented. Incidental live music is permitted.
  12. Customers making takeaway purchases are exempt from both Test and Trace and the requirement to be seated while ordering, but their purchase must be consumed off-premise (including outside of adjacent areas).

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